Sunday, July 5, 2015


I'm back in MY KITCHEN IN SPAIN, after a trip to the US to visit family and friends. Alas, I am too jet-lagged to plan and cook and photograph a Spanish recipe (although, I've already made a big jug of gazpacho to take to friends' party).

Take off. The Costa del Sol off the wing of Delta's direct flight, Málaga to New York. Almost I can see my house.

I am savoring my trip as I unpack some food souvenirs. You might recall that I packed my bag with FOODS FROM SPAIN (see that article here) to take to the US (yes, the 2-liters of olive oil arrived without mishap). Now, I'm bringing back some foods from US markets. And, what a varied bunch of foods they are!

Venezuelan cocoa; Guatemalan coffee.

My son Daniel Searl, who lives in the Atlanta area, is in charge of Hispanic Outreach at the WESTMINSTER SCHOOLS He takes a group of high school students to Guatemala every year, where they help folks in Antigua by building houses. The students sell Guatemalan coffee to help finance their trip. It's fantastic coffee and the $10 over the cost helps the program. 

Daniel's inlaws, Jorge and Juana Nieto, who are from Venezuela, gifted me with the packet of Venezuelan cocoa (as well as a tipico dinner of rice, beans and slow-braised beef). What a treat!

In Georgia, I ate lots of Georgia peaches, in season now. I brought back bags of Georgia pecans for gifts for friends.

Georgia pecans--great gift.
One of the food books I was looking for.

Daniel took me shopping all over Atlanta. At a stop at Barnes & Noble I found a book I've been wanting, Nancy Harmon Jenkins'  VIRGIN TERRITORY--Exploring the World of Olive Oil (Nancy and I share a passion for olive oil). But I gotta confess, the other books I was looking for were not available (Jeffrey Weiss's CHARCUTERÍA--THE SOUL OF SPAINVEGETARIAN DINNER PARTIES, by Mark Scarbourough and Bruce Weinstein, and  Aglaia Kremezi´s VEGETARIAN FEASTS. These are all recent releases, so I was disappointed they weren't in stock.)

Specialty foods--matzos, horseradish.

We went to an Atlanta Kroger that had a large kosher food section, where I could find Hanukah candles and packs of matzoh. No, it´s not the season for Hanukah (around Christmas) or Passover (spring), but these are products not easy to find in Spain. I'll make matzo-ball soup in the winter. Oh, and some horseradish, for shrimp cocktail sauce and, possibly, even for roast beef.

Kitchen utensils.
At the grocery store I also found a plastic measuing cup and a cheese grater, to replace ones that have given up the ghost. (My Microplane broke its handle--so I'm trying a different brand this time.) The 4-cup plastic measuring cup lost all the markings, so I couldn't tell 2 cups from 3 cups. This one also has milliliters.

Packets of garden seed. Will there be bok choy?

Daniel also took me to a garden center where I could find a selection of vegetable seeds. I'm after those I can't find in Spain--bok choy, arugula, red chard. Hope springs eternal with seeds!

A selection at the Farmers' Market in Covington, LA.
From Atlanta, I went on a 7-hour road trip to New Orleans (with a break-down of Daniel's mini-van near Montgomery, Alabama, where 50 years ago I joined the march for voting rights that started in Selma). Kids were great on a long trip--electronic devices plus spells of reading books kept them entertained. I visited all the main fast-food joints in America!

My sister Elaine lives outside New Orleans. She took me to a farmers' market in Covington, LA., where I bought veggies for dinner and jars of Cajun pepper jelly sweetened with stevia (no-cal sweetener).

After eating crawfish boil, filé gumbo and spicy shrimp creole, I had to have some New Orleans spice blends to bring home. Plus, a magazine of Louisiana Cookin´ with lots of recipes to remind me of my trip.

I've also got a box of Grape Nuts, a crunchy cereal with very little sugar; a jícama, a crunchy vegetable used in Mexican cooking and a package of farro wheat. New stuff to work with in my kitchen.

Glad to be home.

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